U.S. technology company Intel scrubbed all mentions of forced labor in Xinjiang, China, from its letter to suppliers after receiving stiff backlash from China.
Intel sent a letter written by vice president Jackie Sturm to suppliers in December 2021, urging them to avoid sourcing from the Xinjiang region, home to China’s Uyghur Muslim minority, citing the company’s forced labor policies.
“Multiple governments have imposed restrictions on products sourced from the Xinjiang region,” Sturm wrote. “Therefore, Intel is required to ensure our supply chain does not use any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region.”
However, the tech giant has now removed all mentions of Xinjiang from its supplier letter; the document currently available on Intel’s website no longer includes several sentences which mentioned Xinjiang under a subheading outlining Intel’s expectations regarding forced labor.
According to archived versions of the web page, Intel removed the language referencing Xinjiang sometime around Dec. 24. An archive of the document from Dec. 25 shows that the language is no longer there.
After it published the letter, Intel was rebuked by several Chinese state-linked actors and many Chinese social media users, The Wall Street Journal reported, prompting the tech giant to issue a statement Dec. 23 on its Chinese social media accounts apologizing for the language.
“We deeply apologize for the confusion caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public,” Intel said, the WSJ reported.
When reached for comment, Intel senior director of corporate communications William Moss did not answer questions regarding the removal of the language referencing Xinjiang, and he repeated a statement previously issued following Intel’s apology.
“We recently issued a statement in China to address concerns raised by our stakeholders there regarding how we communicated certain legal requirements and policies with our global supplier network,” Moss said. “We will continue to ensure that our global sourcing complies with applicable laws and regulations in the U.S. and in other jurisdictions where we operate.”
Intel is just the latest U.S. tech company to submit to Chinese pressure; a Reuters investigation in December found that Amazon had shuttered its user reviews feature for its Chinese online marketplace over negative reviews of books published by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Once again, an American corporation has showed extreme cowardice by bowing to the sensitivities of the Chinese Communist Party, which is perpetrating a genocide against Uyghur Muslims,” Council on American-Islamic Relations deputy executive director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“By removing language that explicitly prohibits the sourcing of goods from the Uyghur region of China, Intel is enabling the Chinese government’s efforts to profit from forced labor and bully the world into silence,” Mitchell said.